1 in 4 disaster-hit children needs mental care for problem behavior
via mainichi (Japanese following)
One in four children who were of nursery school age when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck their homes in northeastern Japan needs medical care for their problematic behavior, a survey by a Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare study group has found.
The study team, headed by Tohoku University professor Shigeo Kure, attributed the children’s behavior — including violence and withdrawal — to the deaths of their friends, separation from their parents and the life experiences they have gone through in disaster-hit areas, calling for swift measures for children in need of mental support.
The research group was joined by the National Center for Child Health and Development, Fukushima Medical University, the Miyagi Child and Family Mental Health Center, the Iwate Medical University, and other institutions. Takeo Fujiwara, a researcher at the National Center for Child Health and Development, released the study results at a symposium in Sendai on Jan. 26.
The survey covered 178 children and their parents and guardians who had been enrolled in classes for 3- to 5-year-old children at nursery schools in the three prefectures on March 11, 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck the region, and who agreed to be surveyed. They underwent questionnaires and interviews between September 2012 and June 2013.
The nursery schools were located in Miyako, Rikuzentakata and Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture; Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture; and Fukushima, Iwaki, Minamisoma and Tomioka in Fukushima Prefecture. A similar survey was also conducted in Mie Prefecture, which was not directly affected by the 2011 quake disaster, for comparison.
The questionnaire employed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), an internationally recognized method of identifying children’s problem behavior through numerical comparisons of their behavior, which has been used by administrations, schools and medical institutions in Japan. The children were also interviewed for their state of mind by child psychiatrists and clinical psychologists while being taken care of mentally. Children who were diagnosed as being likely to develop problem behavior were further grouped into whether they were in need of mental care based on doctors’ advice.
As a result, 25.9 percent of children in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were diagnosed as being in need of medical care because of reasons including the loss of their friends to the disaster, partial collapse of their homes, witnessing the oncoming tsunami, and separation from their parents. In Mie Prefecture, only 8.5 percent of children — or one-third the figure in disaster-hit prefectures — were diagnosed as being in such need of medical care.
Specifically, children in disaster-hit regions suffered from dizziness, nausea, headaches, swearing and reticence, among other symptoms. If left as they were, they are likely to suffer from learning and development disorders, affecting their access to higher education and employment, according to experts.
It is rare for such small children to undergo a survey like this on the effects of natural disasters. Past similar surveys covered relatively older children in studying the relations between disasters and their mental problems.
Makiko Okuyama, a researcher at the National Center for Child Health and Development who took part in the survey, said, « The fact that so many children are in need of psychological care has surfaced for the first time through objective data. It is generally known that the number of children who are in need of care increases immediately after a quake-disaster, but the survey was conducted over 1 1/2 years after the 2011 quake-disaster — which is of particular concern. It is necessary to develop a system to support children in their local communities with the help of medical specialists and others. »
The study team will continue to conduct similar surveys on the same children over the next decade to keep track of their status.
January 27, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)
岩手、宮城、福島３県で東日本大震災当 時に保育園児だった子どもへの調査で、暴力や引きこもりなどの問題行動があり、精神的問題に関する医療的なケアが必要な子が４人に１人に達することが、厚 生労働省研究班（研究代表者＝呉繁夫・東北大教授）の調査で分かった。友人の死や親子の分離、被災地での生活体験が原因と考えられる。サポートが行き届い ていない子も多いとみられ、専門家は早期の対応を求めている。
対象は、大震災が起きた２０１１年３月１１日に、３県内の保育園の３〜５歳児クラスに在籍していた子 １７８人と保護者。アンケートと面接を、震災後１年半以降となる１２年９月〜昨年６月にかけて実施した。保育園の所在地は▽岩手＝宮古市、陸前高田市、大 槌町▽宮城＝気仙沼市▽福島＝福島市、いわき市、南相馬市、富岡町。比較する非被災地域として三重県で同様の調査を実施した。
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